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Weekend links: Montreal's attempt to slow growth

Montreal's city council is limiting the number of new restaurants in one neighborhood in hopes that the move will slow rising prices. The buildings we live and work in shape how we think, and designers are hoping that's just the tip of the iceberg. Some argue that our urban policies of the last two decades drove down city voter turnout earlier this month. Read about this, and more, from world of transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by La Belle Province on Flickr.

Of Montreal: In an effort to fight gentrification, the city of Montreal has determined that a street in a booming neighborhood will not open any new high-end restaurants. The law passed by city council states that a new restaurant cannot open within 25 meters of an existing one, while other stores are more than welcome. This has drawn complaints from merchants but has pleased residents that think the move will keep rents in the city lower than in contemporaries like Vancouver and Toronto. (Guardian)

Messing with your mind: Stop for a second and look around. The place where you are reading this could be controlling your mind. Interiors and exteriors of buildings have a strong influence on how humans feel. Designers are working to learn more so they can do things like build hospitals that heal people more quickly or prisons that do a better job of rehabilitating. (Curbed)

Blame urban policy: Is our country's urban policy of the last 25 years the reason fewer urban voters turned out this year than in 2008? Commentator James DeFilippis thinks so, saying that policies that are too market focused, help people that already have capital, and outsource community action have failed to make a noticeable positive difference in the lives of many city dwellers. (Metropolitics)

Car, car revolution?: Ford's CEO Mark Fields believes that cars aren't the future of his company. At the recent Automobility LA conference, Fields said he wants to focus on moving people rather than moving vehicles. A focus on urban transportation modes and partnerships with cities would be a welcome shift for anyone hoping we'll cut back on our car dependence. (Los Angeles Times).

Three paths for self-driving cars: Some people see three different scenarios coming to pass once electric autonomous vehicles are really a feasible option: dense, high-income places where people share self-driving cars the way we do with ride hailing services now, sprawling places where most people buy their own, and places where the technology just doesn't work because the infrastructure isn't good enough or there are too many unpredictable pedestrians. (Fast Company Co-Exist)

The psychology behind why we're OK with sitting in traffic

Most people hate traffic, yet we are willing to sit in it for long periods of time to get to where we are going. Have you ever wondered why you put up with it? In this episode of Transit Trends, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman, the hosts of the podcast Two Guys on Your Head and recent authors of a book called Brain Briefs, sit down with host Erica Brennes to discuss the psychology behind sitting in traffic.

Politics


Here's who won the ANC races near you

If you are a DC voter, you (hopefully) voted for an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner on Tuesday night to represent your neighborhood. Maybe you even used our endorsements as a guide! Here are the results of the 50 ANC races where Greater Greater Washington endorsed a candidate.


ANC candidate Scott Davies used our endorsement post for his campaign sign! Photo by Daniel Warwick.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) are hyper-local elected bodies. Compared to many other candidates you voted for on Tuesday, ANCs have almost no formal authority. In fact, as advisory bodies, officially they are pretty powerless. But when it comes to the decisions about the look and feel of your neighborhood, ANCs hold a lot of sway with zoning, preservation, liquor licensing, transportation, and other agencies and boards.

This election, Greater Greater Washington embarked on an unprecedented effort to engage and inform voters about ANC candidates. With 299 ANC seats in contest across the city, we crowdsourced a candidate questionnaire to ask questions about issues that mattered to each neighborhood. We sent this out to the over 380 known candidates running and received over 200 responses. Finally, we asked our readers to weigh in and then chose to endorse 50 candidates in contested races across all eight wards. We also endorsed several write-in candidates. All of that work is catalogued here.

While we are still waiting for the results from write-in candidates, here is how the 50 contested races turned out:

ANCOur endorseeWinnerWon by # votes
1A01Valarie BaronValarie Baron146
1A07Darwain FrostSharon Farmer164
1A10Amanda FrostRashida Brown230
1B01Jonathan GoldmanAnita Norman537
1D01Jon StewartJon Stewart177
1D02Paul KarrerPaul Karrer139
1D03Benjamin MannJack McKay136
2A03Marco GuzmanMarco Guzman92
2B05Teal BakerRandy Downs149
2B09Scott DaviesScott Davies425
2E03Greg MillerRick Murphy204
2F01Jason FormanJason Forman140
2F03Alex GrahamAlex Graham57
3C05Emma HershEmma Hersh203
3C08Chaz RotenbergMalia Brink326
3C09Bob WardNancy MacWood279
3D02Troy KravitzTroy Kravitz45
4A04Patience SingletonPatience Singleton162
4B06Natalee SniderNatalee Snider346
4B07James Gaston IIIJudi Jones61
4C01Charlotte NugentCharlotte Nugent325
4D06Amy HemingwayAmy Hemingway451
5A03Will GeeKeisha Cofield-Lynch335
5A08Gordon-Andrew FletcherGordon-Andrew Fletcher50
5B03Henri MakembeHenri Makembe112
5C02Carlos Dennis DavisKevin Mullone48
5C04Sumner Shaw, Jr.Jacqueline Manning278
5D03Adam RobertsJames Butler81
5E03Hannah R. PowellHannah Powell251
5E10Michael HendersonNancy "Darlene" Jones118
6A05Yair InspektorPatrick Malone260
6A06Stephanie ZimnyStephanie Zimny394
6D01Gail FastGail Fast140
6D02Cara Lea ShockleyCara Lea Shockley602
6D05Katelynd MahoneyRoger Moffat129
6E01Alexander "Alex" PadroAlex Padro244
6E04Lily RobertsLily Roberts435
7B01Debra WalkerDebra Walker34
7B05Villareal "VJ" JohnsonRobin Marlin104
7B07Jimmie WilliamsD.L. Humphrey41
7C05Joseph ThomasMary Gaffney192
7D01Bob CoomberBob Coomber2
7D04Cinque CulverJo-Anne Prue289
7E04Myron SmithTakiyah Tate73
7E06Dontrell SmithDontrell Smith59
7F01Maria (Mafe) JacksonTyrell Holcomb135
8A05LaTasha Nicole GunnelsTravon Hawkins203
8A06Greta FullerGreta Fuller41
8B06Diag DavenportMitchell Hawkins III378
8C01Kristal KnightKaren "Coach" Lucas30

Congratulations to the winners and all the candidates who ran this year. Involved and committed citizens like you are how democracy works.

Remember, Greater Greater Washington only endorsed candidates in competitive races this year (read about our full process here). If you want to see who won for your ANC, check out the DC Board of Elections website and read about the winner's views at our ANC page, which includes the responses from everyone who answered our questionnaire.

A couple of key races to note

In ANC 3D (Palisades) long-time commissioner Tom Smith, infamous to many for obstructionism in the area, was unseated by challenger and GGWash endorsee Troy Kravitz by a narrow margin of 45 votes. Kravitz will have his work cut out for him on the ANC. If you live in the area, make sure to connect with Kravitz and support his work to change ANC 3D's culture and bring positive improvements to the neighborhood.

Farther east, in ANC 1D (Mount Pleasant), three people were running against incumbents in races that partially revolved around whether to add a playground on some public land. GGWash endorsed the challengers, and two of the three, Paul Karrer and Jon Stewart both won by solid margins. We are excited to see what ANC 1D is able to accomplish for the neighborhood!

In Brookland, Henri Makembe won a seat in 5B, an area that has had some strong opposition to changes in the neighborhood of late. Henri seemed like a much more positive and forward thinking candidate, and we are hopeful about his addition to the ANC.

Finally, in 7E Dontrell Smith pulled off an impressive feat, winning by 59 votes in a three-way race that included incumbent Lakeshia Lloyd-Lee. He is will join another newcomer, Ebbon Allen, who we also like a lot (we didn't endorse here because he was in an uncontested race). This could be an exciting time for neighbors in 7E,

By the numbers

Of the 50 candidates Greater Greater Washington endorsed this election, 25 won their races.

Some GGWash candidates won by close margins. We were very happy to see that in seven of the ten closest races where the victor won by less than 60 votes, GGWash endorsees won their seat. It doesn't take much to tip many ANC elections. One dramatic case is in 7D01, where GGWash endorsee Bob Coomber won by just 2 votes.

See, we told you, your votes really count in these local elections!

Other races weren't as close. Out of the 25 races our endorsed candidates won, seven were won by over 300 votes - a high margin for an ANC contest. Cara Lea Shockley stood out with a pronounced victory in 6D02, winning by 602 votes.

How did incumbents do?

ANC commissioners serve two-year terms without pay, and the position is a lot of work, It is not uncommon for a commissioner to step away from the position after one or more terms. In the 50 races we analyzed and endorsed, 30 had an incumbent on the ballot.

On Tuesday night, the story of incumbents really depended on your neighborhood. For example, in the Ward 5 races we analyzed incumbents did particularly poorly: 5/8 races had an incumbent running and only one won. This suggests a real appetite for change throughout this ward.

The opposite was true in Ward 6, where 4/7 races we analyzed included an incumbent and all four defended their seats. Seems like residents in Ward 6 are generally okay with the direction of their neighborhoods!

Finally, Ward 7 had an incredibly high number of contested seats and candidates this year. What is more, incumbents remained on the ballot in 8 out of the 9 races we focused on. In this case, half of the incumbents held their positions, while the other half were beaten by challengers.

Our endorsements included eight incumbents this year throughout the entire city, and four won reelection. On the other hand, GGWash candidates unseated 10 incumbents this year in different neighborhoods. We hope these candidates bring about some positive changes in your area soon.

What's next

We will publish another post when write-in candidate results are available, as we did endorse a few candidates for empty seats this year where no one was on the official ballot.

Of course, there are a number of fantastic commissioners out there that we did not endorse simply because they were in uncontested races this year. We are excited that these commissioners will be joined by our 25 winning endorsees, and we look forward to continuing to work alongside ANCs across DC to make our city greater.

Greater Greater Washington's endorsements are made possible because of financial support from our readers. Our 501(c)(4) nonprofit status enables us to bring you information and analysis about political candidates, but this work is not supported by our foundation grants. If you found this year's ANC or other endorsements a valuable service, please consider making a donation today.

Politics


Tuesday is election day. Here's a recap of our endorsements.

Tomorrow is election day, one of our single biggest opportunities to make the Washington DC region even greater. Please vote! If you didn't vote early and are headed to the polls tomorrow, here's a recap of our recommendations on how to vote.


Photo by Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin on Flickr.

Where to vote

Not sure where your polling place is? Plug your home address into Google's voting tool, and it will tell you your polling place, your voting and ID requirements, and a pretty good roundup of what will be on your ballot:

Our (non-ANC) endorsements

Over the past several weeks, GGWash has released its official endorsements for a number of races. Per reader request, here they all are again, in one easy place to reference (or share).

We recommend area voters choose:

  • Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine for President
  • David Grosso and Robert White for DC Council at large
  • Mary Lord for DC State Board of Education
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton for DC Delegate
  • For DC's statehood referendum
  • LuAnn Bennett and Don Beyer for Congress in Virginia
  • John Delaney and Jamie Raskin for Congress in Maryland
  • For the Prince George's at-large council seat proposal
  • Against Montgomery County term limits
Read our rationales and more details on these races here.

ANC endorsements

Are you a DC resident but unsure of which race you vote in? Use ANCfinder.org to find out.

To determine this year's ANC endorsements, we sent a reader-generated candidate questionnaire to all ANC candidates. We then published candidate responses and collected feedback. Staff evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and recommended endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.

A note about ANC candidates noted as write-in: because they completed our survey long after we began to publish our endorsements (with the exceptions of Eve Zhurbinskiy and Nicole Cacozza, who submitted in early September), candidates had the opportunity to review our analyses before submitting their responses. While they had that advantage, we do believe our endorsed candidates would make for great commissioners and deserve your write-in vote.

ANCs Ward 1

 

ANCs Ward 2

 

ANCs Ward 3

 

ANCs Ward 4

 

ANCs Ward 5

 

ANCs Ward 6

 

ANCs Ward 7

 

ANCs Ward 8

 

Each ANC is divided into a number of Single Member Districts (SMDs), averaging about 2,000 voters. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes; Your vote—every vote—really counts. This is especially true for write-in candidates, whose biggest challenge is simply getting enough people to remember their name when they go to the ballot box.

Politics


Our endorsements for write-in ANC candidates

There are 20 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) seats this year with no one on the ballot: no candidate registered before this summer's deadline. Write-in candidates for eight of those empty seats filled out our candidate questionnaire. Here are their responses and our endorsements.


If there is no one on the ballot for your ANC seat, you can still write someone in! Photo by Michael Rosenstein on Flickr.

Last week we wrote about the 20 ANC races this year with no candidate on the ballot. We asked any write-in candidates already out there to get in touch and take our survey so we could evaluate their stances on issues we care about. Eleven candidates answered the call, and we've collected their responses here.

After reviewing all responses, we found eight we'd like to endorse for write-in candidates. If you live in one of these neighborhoods, please consider writing these names in! Without their name printed on the ballot, these candidates need all the help and exposure they can get.


Map created with Mapbox, data from OpenStreetMap.

 

What are ANCs, and why should I care?

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, are neighborhood councils of unpaid, elected representatives who meet monthly and weigh in with the government about important issues to the community. ANCs are very important on housing and transportation. An ANC's opposition to new housing, retail, a bike lane, bus improvements, etc. can stymie or significantly delay valuable projects. On the other hand, proactive and positive-thinking ANCs give the government suggestions for ways to improve the neighborhood and rally resident support.

Each ANC is divided into a number of Single Member Districts (SMDs), averaging about 2,000 voters. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes; Your vote—every vote—really counts. This is especially true for write-in candidates, whose biggest challenge is simply getting enough people to remember their name when they go to the ballot box.

Not sure which SMD you live in? Find out here.


Howard University. Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

In Ward 1, we endorse John Cochrane, Nicole Cacozza, Albert Lang, and Ryan Strom

Many write-in candidates from Ward 1 completed our survey. Two answered from ANC 1B, which includes the neighborhoods of Pleasant Plains, LeDroit Park, and U Street. We wrote about some of the key neighborhood issues there in our earlier endorsement post.

One empty seat this election is ANC 1B06, the area stretching west from Cardozo High School. For this district, we think you should write-in John Cochrane.

Cochrane had clear ideas for where new housing could go in his neighborhood, in particular pointing out some "surface lots that are screaming to be re-purposed along 14th Street." He had specific recommendations for bike and pedestrian improvements throughout the area, and when asked about possibly removing street parking for better bus service said he was "inclined to tip... towards better bus service" if all else were equal.

To the east, Nicole Cacozza was the only candidate we heard from in ANC 1B10. This area includes some residential areas near Howard University and McMillan Reservoir.

Cacozza is excited about what is in store for her neighborhood: "As we can see from the renovations and construction on Georgia Avenue, our neighborhood is already changing into what it could be in 20 years. While the promise of new businesses and apartments is exciting, I think that the best thing for the neighborhood is to preserve a balance of livability and open space alongside the development that is already occurring."

She is supportive of adding more housing and bike lanes in the area, and approves the current dedicated bus lane on Georgia Avenue, saying she supports "extending it further north into my district."

Full disclosure: Nicole also volunteers as one of our Breakfast Links curators, so of course we are excited to support her in this goal!


Adams Morgan. Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

There are two candidates we want to endorse in Adams Morgan's ANC 1C, which is great because as you might have read in our previous post, originally we did not have any candidates in competitive races to endorse there.

ANC 1C01 is generally the area south of Wyoming Avenue between Columbia Road and 18th Street—the southwestern edge of Adams Morgan. Here we support Albert Lang.

When asked how he would address public safety in the area, Lang says the issue goes "hand in hand with flourishing businesses and additional housing," that "more people living in the area means more people patronizing business means more people around," which makes the area safer. He is also strongly supports the redevelopment of the SunTrust bank, and says there "is no reason in today's world that the process should be so drawn out and contentious".

Farther north in the upper part of Lanier Heights lies ANC 1C05, and here we endorse Ryan Strom as a write-in candidate.

Strom's answer to our question about the SunTrust bank is incredibly in tune with how many feel about this ongoing controversy:

I think there is a small minority of residents who are set in how the neighborhood should look and feel. I look around at my changing neighborhood and see progress. The 18th street streetscape, the Ontario Theater building's renovation, the historic hotel's construction to name a few. All of these have increased retail, foot traffic, housing values and residents in such a great urban mixed-use neighborhood; this is exactly why this is my favorite section of the city. The Sun Trust Plaza redevelopment is simply a continuation of such work.
...I think many residents fear that increased construction would destroy their way of life in their neighborhood, but in reality it simply seeks to improve it offering more. More retail, more restaurant options, more amenities and offering these services to more people to enjoy. The ANC should of course seek to balance many things, but the ANC should not be exclusionary in its mission or view itself as protecting the status quo to the detriment of all others.
Well said.

On affordable housing, Strom is also frustrated that "the ANC has not been... pushing affordable housing as a benefit they want to see developers offer." Instead, the commission has used "its political clout (and successfully) to limit the buildings scope/design and size" and not used its energy and "clout to increase affordable housing." Additionally, Strom is in favor of better connecting bike lanes across the area, and is supportive of improving bus infrastructure.

We received a response from another write-in candidate in this race: Ron Baker. Ron has been a long time advocate for the area and was instrumental in organizing opposition to the downzoning in Lanier Heights that unfortunately passed earlier this year. Based on the two candidates' responses to our survey, we decided to endorse Strom here, but it is great that two strong candidates have stepped forward to fill this empty seat!


George Washington University. Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr.

In Ward 2, we endorse Eve Zhurbinskiy

Incumbent Eve Zhurbinskiy is looking for a second term as commissioner for 2A08, and we think that's a good idea. Her SMD encompasses George Washington University and the area directly east along Pennsylvania Avenue; read here to learn about the issues affecting neighbors there.

When asked about addressing homelessness in the neighborhood, Zhurbinskiy has a host of ideas, many of which she developed while serving on the Foggy Bottom Association's Homelessness Task Force. She says she "will continue to work to identify neighborhood projects related to ending homelessness that qualify for grant funding from the ANC."

Zhurbinskiy also had a number of successes in her first term on everything from improving policing to pedestrian improvements in the ANC. All of this on top of being a student at George Washington! We hope voters nearby grant her a second term.


Cleveland Park. Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.

In Ward 3, we endorse Beau Finley and Michael Sriqui

Just east of the Cleveland Park Metro Station is 3C04, part of an ANC where there are a number of pressing issues this election.

We think Beau Finley is a good candidate to fill this seat. Finley is fully supportive of the homeless shelter proposed nearby, saying "homelessness is a city-wide issue in need of multiple city-wide solutions, with each Ward doing its part."

He is also excited about the chance to "reimagine Woodley Park" with the development at Wardman Park. He understands that there are many issues to be addressed with such an influx of new residents, but ultimately that "redevelopment cannot be rejected or concessioned into abandonment simply because it would upset the status quo."

We think Finley's reasonable and positive responses reveal a good candidate for this ANC.

To the west is the Palisades neighborhood, part of ANC 3D and an area we wrote about here. The westernmost corner of this commission is 3D04, and write-in candidate Michael Sriqui looks like a solid choice for that neighborhood.

Sriqui wants the ANC to focus less on the small disagreements and issues between themselves and American University, and instead reiterate "the general benefits having a major college campus brings to a neighborhood." He also believes through experience that "[w]e can have growth, promote housing policies that better reflect our professed progressive values, and maintain the leafy, residential character of our neighborhoods without much sacrifice."

He has clear ideas for improving bike infrastructure, and sees clear opportunities for better bus service that would only affect un-zoned parking. Finally, Sriqui shares his frustration with the obstructionist past of his ANC: "There is little, beside irrational fear of change, to suggest that empty store fronts, lightly used parking lots, and 'historic' garages promote the bucolic vision supposedly behind always saying 'no' to development."

We hope Sriqui will be a part of a real culture change in ANC 3D and encourage neighbors to write him in.


Takoma Metro station. Photo by art around on Flickr.

In Ward 4, we endorse Tanya Topolewski

Finally, we received two responses from write-in candidates in Ward 4, specifically for the Takoma-area ANC 4B which we discussed in this post. For the empty ballot on 4B02, the neighborhood along Piney Branch Road just south of the Takoma Metro station, we support Tanya Topolewski.

Topolewski is "a strong supporter of development at Metro stations, including Takoma's." In particular, we really liked her thoughts about the controversial elements of this redevelopment plan, namely that parking should be limited and that rather than get upset about height, neighbors should instead focus on "how any building works on the ground level," encouraging walkable spaces and retail.

She has grand visions for increased development along Georgia Avenue, saying "it's time to make sure that it becomes a place people want to be with great urban design emphasizing welcoming sidewalk space," something she has thought a lot about while serving on ANC 4B's Design Review Committee. She supports the dog park in the area and sees many opportunities for growth throughout the neighborhood within existing zoning.

Another write-in candidate responded to our survey for this ANC: Jaime Willis. We liked a lot of what Willis had to say, and it's great that this district has so many informed and positive neighbors who want to get involved in their ANC! In the end, we endorsed Topolewski based on her experience and in-depth responses.

Want to read the responses of all of the write-in candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF here. You can also see the responses and our endorsements for all 8 wards on our 2016 ANC Endorsements Page.

A note about all of these write-in candidates: because they completed our survey long after we began to publish our endorsements (with the exceptions of Eve Zhurbinskiy and Nicole Cacozza, who submitted in early September), candidates had the opportunity to review our analyses before submitting their responses. While they had that advantage, we do believe our endorsed candidates would make for great commissioners and deserve your write-in vote.

These are official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington. To determine this year's endorsements, we sent a reader-generated candidate questionnaire to all ANC candidates. We then published candidate responses and collected feedback. Staff evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and recommended endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.

Politics


This map shows what percentage of our region's population is registered to vote

Most of us have at least a vague understanding of the political leanings of the communities we live in, but we tend not to know what fraction of our neighbors actually vote. I recently made a map showing what fraction of the population is registered to vote in legislative districts throughout the region.

Each district or ward is color-coded based on the percentage of residents who were registered voters in 2014; the darker the color, the more people who were registered. I only included Maryland and Virginia legislative districts that contain part of Prince George's, Montgomery, Fairfax, or Arlington counties, or the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, or Fairfax.

Because it was easiest to find data on registered voters for electoral districts, I decided to use lower house state legislative districts in Maryland and Virginia and wards in the District of Columbia for the map. (DC is split up geographically into eight wards, each of which has a representative on the DC Council.)

It is worth noting that while this data tells us what percentage of residents vote, it does not take into account the fact that not all districts have the same population of eligible voters. Unfortunately, I was unable to find data on the number of eligible voters, or of citizens eighteen or older, tabulated by legislative district.

One thing I think is noteworthy is how much the the percentage of residents registered to vote varies across the region. In Maryland's District 47B, only 28% of the population is registered to vote (granted, the district does include the immigrant-heavy area of Langley Park), while in DC's Ward 6 (which includes Capitol Hill), 86% of the population is registered to vote.

As a Prince George's County resident, I was also surprised to find that the percentage of registered voters is generally lower in northern Prince George's County than anywhere else in the DC area, since I had thought of the northern half of the county as more politically engaged than the south. However, the large immigrant communities in the northern county, and the associated larger numbers of non-citizens, are probably part of the reason for this effect.

Politics


Our endorsements for races across the Washington region

Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day, and most area jurisdictions have early voting which has already begun. Here are our endorsements for some key races on your ballot.


Photo by League of Women Voters of California LWVC on Flickr.

We recommend area voters choose:

  • Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine for President
  • David Grosso and Robert White for DC Council at large
  • Mary Lord for DC State Board of Education
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton for DC Delegate
  • DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission: Read our endorsements here
  • For DC's statehood referendum
  • LuAnn Bennett and Don Beyer for Congress in Virginia
  • John Delaney and Jamie Raskin for Congress in Maryland
  • For the Prince George's at-large council seat proposal
  • Against Montgomery County term limits
Below is our rationale for all endorsements in races other than Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. You can read our detailed reasons for our ANC endorsements by choosing your ward from this page.

President and Vice President of the United States

We know, the whole nation was waiting with bated breath to find out what Greater Greater Washington thinks about the presidential race. Your long suspense is over: after some very contentious balloting, our contributors unanimously recommended voting for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. We figured we'd start this post off with a shocker.

Seriously, whether you're Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, pro-urbanism or anti, for goodness' sake, vote for Hillary Clinton. As one contributor put it, "because it's the only choice to keep our national government from slipping into utter chaos." Clinton is, they said, "most likely to continue the Obama Administration's urban policies and really enhance his domestic policy legacy."

Anyway, you probably want to get on to the local races where our endorsement is more likely to sway you. Fair enough!


David Grosso (left) and Robert White (right). Images from the candidates' websites.

DC Council at large

Each November in even years, voters pick two at-large members of the DC Council, but the law limits the number of Democrats (or members of any other party) who can be on the ballot simultaneously. The Democratic nominee is Robert White, whom we endorsed in the June primary against Vincent Orange. Also running as a technically-not-a-Democrat is incumbent David Grosso, and both deserve your vote (if you vote in DC).

One contributor, who lives east of the Anacostia, said of White: "Robert White is appealing for a person East of the River, as he has articulated a policy for preserving affordable housing, but also pairing such efforts with economic development. Typically we get one but not the other. His proposal to increase density along major corridors also has the beneficial effect of encouraging improvements in mass transit."

As for Grosso, he has been a progressive champion on many issues and a strong fighter for better education in DC as head of its education committee for the last two years. He is one of the council's best members and we look forward to the next four years on the council with Grosso and White.

State Board of Education

Voters also choose members of the State Board of Education. Incumbent Mary Lord is running against two challengers, and we encourage voters to return her to the board. While we don't talk about the SBOE much on Greater Greater Washington (want to write about it? Get in touch) and one contributor said, "I'm pretty sure I keep forgetting this group exists until election time," the board sets important education priorities.

Our contributors said that Lord "has the experience and knowledge" to serve effectively on the board, and others noted that respected ANC commissioners and neighborhood groups are supporting her.

There are also races for council ward seats (not expected to be competitive) and some State Board of Education seats (some possibly competitive) in wards 7 and 8 (and uncontested ones in 2 and 4). We did not have enough contributor consensus to make endorsements in the contested races.


Photo by Michelle Kinsey Bruns on Flickr.

DC Statehood

DC voters will weigh in on an advisory ballot referendum about statehood. Our contributors who filled out our survey universally agreed DC deserves statehood, and even if some didn't agree with every detail of the proposed constitution or process, they felt it sends an important message for voters to ratify this by large margins.

One contributor, who didn't support the process, said, "I think there are a lot of issues with how residents will be represented in the constitution developed (ANCs stay with similar power, bigger council). If we really want statehood, we need to put forward a more serious, thoughtful constitution before taking this further, or else no one else will take it seriously."

But others, while agreeing in part, suggested a yes vote: "Its not perfect, but we goddamn deserve to be a state," one wrote. Another: "It's not perfect, but it's still worth supporting."

And: "Any vote against this will be used as a cudgel by those opposed to statehood for a generation." This referendum is not even binding on the DC Council, let alone Congress which has to act to make DC a state. So the vote really is symbolic, but for an important symbol. Please vote yes on DC Advisory Referendum B.

Delegate to Congress

Speaking of DC's non-representation in Congress, our contributors support re-electing Eleanor Holmes Norton as DC's nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives (but support changing that to a voting representative, of course).

While we haven't always agreed with all she's done, contributors said "she has years of experience working across the aisle in Congress and bringing home much needed funds for DC transportation projects; she has proven herself a partner and ally to my community;" and called her "a long-time fighter for social justice."


LuAnn Bennett on a sidewalk. Image from the candidate's website.

Congress in Maryland and Virginia

If you live outside the District and are a US voter, you can cast a ballot for a voting member of Congress. By far the most hotly contested race in our area is in Virginia's 10th district, between incumbent Barbara Comstock and challenger LuAnn Bennett. The district contains parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties as well as all of Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick counties, plus the cities of Manassas Park, Manassas, and Winchester.

Comstock, the Republican, is portraying herself as a moderate, but as one contributor noted, she "is much more conservative that most people realize, for example a 3% environmental vote score." But even more critically for Greater Greater Washington, she has been unhelpful on issues about WMATA and transit funding.

Further, one contributor noted, "she's shown that she is not very friendly to legislation that would protect cyclists and she also signed legislation that prioritized driving over public transit infrastructure. Knowing her record indicates to me that the 10th district should have a candidate who wants to work with others to promote smart growth, which LuAnn Bennett has made one of her campaign issues."

Just over the Potomac, Maryland's 6th district streches from Montgomery County to western Maryland. Incumbent John Delaney (D) faces Amie Hoeber (R). Our contributors are not huge fans of Delaney, noting that he "is a captive of the highway lobby" and "is determined to widen I-270." However, they said, "his opponent is even worse" and "Amie Hoeber wants to basically widen everything." We encourage voters to return Delaney to office despite his flaws.

In less competitive Congressional races, contributors also had glowing things to say about Don Beyer in VA-8, who "has made smart growth and transit part of his campaign. He's promoted clean energy and public transit, including BRT in Fairfax County."

They also recommended Jamie Raskin, who won a 3-way primary for the open seat in Maryland's 8th district. "Jamie Raskin should easily win but he has been a progressive champion in Annapolis and deserves to be recognized," one wrote. And "Jamie Raskin has been great on Purple Line for many years despite opposition." Raskin has sometimes sided with residents opposed to any new housing in their areas, like on the Takoma Metro station development, but as a member of Congress he would be even more removed from this day-to-day NIMBYism and his record on other issues is very strong.


Images from the campaigns for No On B (Montgomery County term limits) and Re-Charge At Large (Prince George's Question D).

Montgomery County term limits

Montgomery and Prince George's voters will decide whether to change some of the mechanics of their counties' systems with ballot initiatives on November 8.

In Montgomery County, the main question is whether to impose a 3-term limit on county executive and all county council seats. Our contributors who answered the survey unanimously recommend no on Question B. Here's some of what they said:

  • Term limits shift the balance of power away from democratically elected officials and into unelected entities forces like interest groups and agencies.
  • Depriving the Council of experienced members is likely to lead to a Council with a short-term outlook that aims to split the difference between nimby homeowners and real-estate developers, at the expense of county residents who need housing.
  • Honestly, I'm really frustrated with the councilmembers in place today and would like to see them change, but I'm not convinced that term limits will guarantee the change I seek.
  • Term limits remove choices from the voters, and in this case is just a trojan horse for creating several open seats for wealthier residents to buy their way onto the Council.
One particularly nasty part of the term limits proposal would count a full term against anyone who served even a single year (or a day) of a partial term. That would force out Nancy Navarro, who won a special election in 2009 and then her first full term in 2010.

The county council has put Question C on the ballot to change this so that a partial term only counts if it's two years or more, the same as the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution for Presidental term limits. While we hope voters reject term limits entirely, voters should vote yes on Question C to make the law fairer if it does pass.

Prince George's at large

In Montgomery, DC, and other jurisdictions, there are at-large councilmembers alongside ward members. This means everyone still has one person representing his or her area, but also some people who take the larger view. This system works well, and Prince George's could adopt some of it with an initiative to add two at-large members to its currently nine-member council.

Our contributors suggest approving this idea with a vote of yes on Question D. One said, "I live in a city now without any at-large representation. It's awful. You need some politicians who can focus on the governance of the municipality as a whole, instead of just parochial issues in their own district." Another felt at-large seats are "essential to end the pattern of individual councilmember vetoes over building in their districts, which empowers NIMBYs and promotes corruption."

One controversial element of this proposal would let members who are term limited as ward members then move up to at-large. Tracy Loh and Matt Johnson discussed this, and other facets of the proposal, in an earlier post.

We hope voters approve Question D and make the Prince George's council more effective.

Politics


How would at-large seats change the Prince George's County Council?

Prince George's voters will decide whether to create two new at-large county council seats in the November 8 election. If the measure (Question D) passes, it will mean more councilmembers who have the entire county's interest in mind.


Photo by Carol Raabus on Flickr.

Currently, the Prince George's legislative branch is made up of nine council districts of roughly equal population. Each district is represented by one council member, and residents can only vote in the race in that district. The county executive is elected at large by residents throughout the county.

Question D would change the makeup of the council. In addition to the nine council districts, there will be two at-large seats, and all county residents will be able to vote for those at-large members, like they do for county executive now.

Parochialism and sprawl go hand in hand

Matt wrote about why Prince George's would benefit from at-large council seats in 2013, after he went to testify on an issue in Upper Marlboro (the current county seat, pending a possible move to Largo) and found the only council member paying attention was his. In his case, as with many others, the other eight council members had no need to pay attention or fear retribution. After all, only their district's residents can vote for or against them.

A district-based focus is particularly a problem when it comes to establishing priorities at the county level. For example, every council member wants development in their district, but the result of that is sprawl.

Without at-large members, the council can have difficulty thinking of the good for the county versus only the good for their districts. So instead of focusing development around Metro stations and existing communities, some council members push for more development in their districts even though they may be far flung from existing infrastructure.

At-large members, on the other hand, would be responsible to county residents as a whole, which incentivizes them to think of the county rather than just their district. It won't necessarily mean that the needs of any one district won't sometimes prevail over the needs of the county as a whole, but at-large members will help to shift the debate.


Prince George's council districts. Map from the county.

Term limits and cost add controversy

The current proposal before Prince George's County voters calls for the creation of two new at-large seats. In addition, district members will be eligible to run for the at-large seats, even though Prince George's County has a two-term limit for council members.

This proposal means that, hypothetically, a district council member could serve two terms and then get two more terms as an at-large member. The Washington Post therefore mocked the measure as "a jobs plan for Prince George's County council members."

This initiative would have had an easier political road if it didn't mean a budget increase for the council to cover new salaries, staff, and discretionary budgets, or effectively lengthen existing eight-year term limits, which the county's voters recently narrowly affirmed.As it stands, for those who are passionate about term limits, this proposal is a Trojan horse that allows politicians to stay in office longer than the spirit or the letter of the current charter allows.

On the other hand, for those who don't think term limits are a good idea (which in 2014 was 49% of Prince George's County voters), this part of the proposal is a benefit. Creating a small path for career advancement for legislators through the at-large system actually could be a good way to ensure the best members can keep serving the public, they argue. Oddly, the Post editorial board recommend against term limits for Montgomery County while criticizing the Prince George's proposal for weakening them.

Creating at-large seats could have equity impacts as well

The county's charter provides for the council districts to be drawn on the basis of population after each census, to contain roughly equal population. That's why the districts bordering the District of Columbia are relatively small and and they're much larger farther out.

Voter registration, however, is not nearly so evenly distributed:

DistrictRegistered
voters (2012)
2010 pop.% registeredAvg. median household income by census block% 19 & younger
160,60498,36362%$101,16326%
236,50991,92840%$77,88625%
353,75799,03854%$85,45630%
463,00198,72464%$115,62926%
560,61394,36264%$85,06029%
683,55696,93286%$119,81628%
761,91094,79465%$74,96828%
868,89893,89273%$87,95325%
979,74394,80484%$102,18027%
Total568,591862,83766%did not calculate27%

In District 2, where Tracy serves on the Mount Rainier city council, only 40% of the population is registered to vote. There are a lot of demographic reasons for this: there are more immigrants and lower incomes in this part of the county, both of which tend to make it harder to both register to vote and to actually get out and vote.

In districts 6 and 9, on the other hand, the vast majority of the population is registered to vote. That means at-large candidates building from these bases will have an advantage when running. It also means places with more poor people and immigrants have less of a voice in choosing those representatives.

The county needs voter registration, education, and turnout efforts in order to actually fulfill the hoped-for potential of the at-large seats. Otherwise, the densest and most urban parts of the county will continue to be under-represented.

At-large seats likely mean more accountability to voters

The legacy of this decision extends far beyond the next one or two elections. Over the long term, demographics in the county will continue to shift, voter registration efforts can pay off, and the basic political theory undergirding at-large seats (that those holding them have an incentive to think regionally) will still apply. The people sitting in the at-large seats will be accountable to more voters.

If Prince George's is going to be competitive in the region and attentive to the needs of all of its residents, it's important that someone at the legislative level is thinking about the good of the county as a whole, and not simply one district.

Politics


Our endorsements for ANC in Ward 8

The southern half of DC's area east of the Anacostia River, Ward 8 contains neighborhoods such as Historic Anacostia, Barry Farm, Congress Heights, and Shipley Terrace. It has DC's highest unemployment and poverty, but also some beautiful parks, historic buildings, and a few terrific candidates for Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Here are four that deserve your vote.


Map created with Mapbox, data from OpenStreetMap.

 

What are ANCs, and why should I care?

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, are neighborhood councils of unpaid, elected representatives who meet monthly and weigh in with the government about important issues to the community. ANCs are very important on housing and transportation. An ANC's opposition to new housing, retail, a bike lane, bus improvements, etc. can stymie or significantly delay valuable projects. On the other hand, proactive and positive-thinking ANCs give the government suggestions for ways to improve the neighborhood and rally resident support.

Each ANC is divided into a number of Single Member Districts (SMDs), averaging about 2,000 voters. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes; Your vote, every vote, really counts.

Not sure which SMD you live in? Find out here.

Here are our endorsements

After reviewing the candidate responses from each competitive race in Ward 8, we chose four candidates to endorse. You can read their positions for yourself here, along with responses of many unopposed candidates.


Anacostia's famous Big Chair. Photo by David Clow on Flickr.

In ANC 8A, we endorse LaTasha Gunnels and Greta Fuller

Historic Anacostia is the heart of ANC 8A. Forming the southern shoreline of the Anacostia River, this ANC runs diagnonally north from the Anacostia Metro Station towards Pennsylvania Avenue.

The proposed 11th Street Bridge Park is big news for these neighborhoods, as the bridge will add recreational options and strengthen connections across the river; even though it's not yet built, the bridge is already bringing increased investment and change to the area.

The continued development of the Martin Luther King Jr. corridor is also an issue to highlight, along with the ongoing debate of how to incorporate the right mix of market rate and affordable housing into the neighborhoods: neighbors often feel that Ward 8 is asked to house disproportionate amounts of social services and supportive housing compared to other wards.

Finally, to the south of the ANC lies Barry Farm (also often called Barry Farms), a large and aging public housing complex slated for redevelopment. There are mixed feelings about the proposed plans; many are wary of displacement and broken promises here, while others say the changes are welcome.

Directly in the center of this ANC is ANC 8A05, home to the historic Frederick Douglass Home. LaTasha Gunnels won our endorsement in this race.

Gunnels wants to "preserve and restore" many of the historic buildings in her area, but also is supportive of diverse types of new housing that would "ensure that long (time) residents can continue to live in our community, while at the same time attracting new residents, businesses and retail to our neighborhood. A great way to measure balance is having a community where residents of all income levels have the opportunity to rent or buy."

She is hopeful about the proposals included in the 11th Street Bridge Park project, and supports using "build-first" principles when redeveloping Barry Farm. That way, the redevelopment happens in sections and current residents can move into a new section before their homes are demolished.

On transit, Gunnels is enthusiastic. Where should bike lanes and pedestrian improvements go in ANC 8A? "Everywhere! Goal is to have a transit-rich neighborhood." Sounds great!

Nearby and to the west is 8A06, which includes the parkland along Poplar Point. This is a heavily contested race, with four candidates running for outgoing commissioner Tina Fletcher's seat. Two of the candidates responded our questionnaire, and between them we think Greta Fuller is the best choice.

Fuller believes that a "mixed income community would jump start the recovery of 8A," that "there should be a balance of affordable and market rate housing," and that some "of the development should also target home ownership." She too is "very hopeful" that the plans at the 11th Street Bridge Park "will allow current residents [to] be here to enjoy the new development."

She has "fought for over 10 years to have new sidewalks in the community" and "actively lobbied for bike share in the community." Fuller seems like a solid choice for commissioner here.

The only other candidate to complete our survey for this race was Jason Anderson, whose answers were generally short and unhelpful. When asked where he would encourage new housing to be built, his response: "In another Ward." What should the neighborhood look like in 20 years, and how will he work towards that vision? All he said was "Clean"; to help, he would "start cleaning." We hope you give Fuller your vote.


View from Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Photo by Eric Fidler on Flickr.

In ANC 8B, we endorse Diag Davenport

Southeast of Anacostia are the neighborhoods of Fort Stanton, Woodland, and Buena Vista, all of which sit in the narrow and dense ANC 8B. Besides the ongoing controversy at nearby Barry Farm, residents here want to know what commissioners hope to do about the Skyland Town Center, which until this year was the proposed site of one of the withdrawn Walmarts. Public safety is also a key concern.

For ANC 8B06, which runs along the Maryland border south of Suitland Parkway, we like Diag Davenport.

Davenport acknowledges that current residents at Barry Farm "deserve transparency and certainty about their housing future, which has not been accomplished in the past." He is "[i]n concept... a proponent of the notion of redeveloping Barry Farms to increase total housing units, increase home quality for all, and disrupt the high concentration of lower-income families. All these goals should have positive effects, if achieved responsibly."

To take on public safety Davenport wants to engage youth directly with ANC-sponsored programs, as well as work alongside the Metropolitan Police Department. Overall, he seems to be a positive and inclusive candidate.

Opponent Mitchell Hawkins III seems like a reasonable candidate as well, but in the end we were less convinced by his answers on housing and transportation and decided to give our support to Davenport.


St. Elizabeths. Photo by hellomarkers! on Flickr.

In ANC 8C, we endorse Kristal Knight

Following the bend in the Anacostia River and including Congress Heights, Barry Farm, and parts of Bolling Air Force Base, ANC 8C is a large area with a number of controversial projects underway within it.

One is the aforementioned Barry Farm redevelopment on the northeastern corner of the ANC. Another is the St. Elizabeths campus. Here, among other long-promised developments, plans for a Wizards and Mystics practice facility and stadium are underway. While the proposal promises to bring jobs, revitalization and development to the area, many have balked at the growing price tag.

Finally, terrible conditions and alleged abuse by landlords has sparked investigations at a series of apartment complexes near the Congress Heights Metro station. WMATA has considered selling nearby land here for future development, and given the proximity to both St. Elizabeths and the Metro station, the area is poised for change.

8C01 covers areas south of St. Elizabeths and a large swath of the Air Force base. For this seat, we think Kristal Knight would make a good commissioner.

Knight is supportive of the plans at St. Elizabeths and eager for the "countless new opportunities for residents" it will bring. She says that the "redevelopment of Barry Farms is well overdue," but demands "clear and actionable answers on the city's plan to provide for temporary housing for displaced residents and for when they return post-redevelopment."

When asked about the changes coming to Congress Heights area, Knight is reflective: "As a homeowner, I understand my taxes may rise, the dynamics of my neighborhood may change and some of my neighbors may be forced to move away due to rising housing costs. I am not settled with any of these potential effects. I am also concerned about what Congress Heights will become without thoughtful community revitalization; a place without access to quality and fresh food options, new employment opportunities; rising crime and the potential deterioration of property value."

In the end, Knight vows that "intentional policy making can assure longtime residents will still be here to enjoy the fruits of redevelopment instead of [being] displaced by them."

Knight says she wants "to attract more for Ward 8 residents" as commissioner, and also has specific recommendations for more bike lanes in the area.

Opponent Karen Lucas also responded to our questionnaire with detailed and well-thought out responses. While we agreed with Lucas on some areas, her stances on bike lanes ("NO BIKE LANES") and removing street parking for better bus service ("ABSOLUTELY NOT") were hard for us to swallow. We encourage you to support Knight with your vote this election.


Bolling Air Force Base. Photo by F Delventhal on Flickr.

In ANC 8D, there are no contested races. In ANC 8E, we aren't endorsing anyone.

The southern tip of DC is ANC 8D, and ANC 8E follows Southern Avenue north from there along the Maryland border.

In 8D, as per our endorsement process outlined here, we didn't offer endorsements because there are no contested races there. In 8E there is only one contested race, and based on candidate responses we did not have enough information to make a confident endorsement.

Want to read the responses of all of the Ward 8 ANC candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF for Ward 8. You can also read about all 8 wards at our 2016 ANC Endorsements Page, where you'll find links to our endorsements, our analysis, and all candidate responses.

These are official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington. To determine this year's endorsements, we sent a reader-generated candidate questionnaire to all ANC candidates. We then published candidate responses and collected feedback. Staff evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and presented endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.

Politics


Our endorsements for ANC in Ward 3

Separated from most of the city by Rock Creek Park, Ward 3 is the western corner of the District. Known for both its beautiful neighborhoods and wealthy enclaves, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions here have seen lots of bitter arguments over new development and change. Many Ward 3 candidates responded to our survey, and we chose four to endorse.


Map created with Mapbox, data from OpenStreetMap.

 

What are ANCs, and why should I care?

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, are neighborhood councils of unpaid, elected representatives who meet monthly and weigh in with the government about important issues to the community. ANCs are very important on housing and transportation. An ANC's opposition to new housing, retail, a bike lane, bus improvements, etc. can stymie or significantly delay valuable projects. On the other hand, proactive and positive-thinking ANCs give the government suggestions for ways to improve the neighborhood and rally resident support.

Each ANC is divided into a number of Single Member Districts (SMDs), averaging about 2,000 voters. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes; Your vote—every vote—really counts.

Not sure which SMD you live in? Find out here.

Here are our endorsements

After reviewing the candidate responses from each competitive race in Ward 3, we chose four candidates to endorse. You can read their positions for yourself here, along with responses of many unopposed candidates.


Cleveland Park. Photo by Payton Chung on Flickr.

In ANC 3C, we endorse Emma Hersh, Chaz Rotenberg, and Bob Ward

The National Zoo, the Naval Observatory, the National Cathedral; all of these are inside the boundaries of ANC 3C. Three major thoroughfares—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Wisconsin Avenues—cut through this ANC, and it includes the neighborhoods of Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, and a portion of Cathedral Heights.

Today there are a couple of headline-grabbing issues involving this area. One is the proposed homeless shelter in Ward 3. There has been tremendous debate about this shelter's location since Mayor Bowser announced her plan to close the DC General shelter earlier this year and replace it with new ones in all eight wards. A group of residents close to where Ward 3's is supposed to go up have filed a lawsuit to try and halt construction.

Another contentious topic is the redevelopment of the Wardman Park Hotel, a large site that could be home to many DC residents if redeveloped into housing, but which has met a lot of neighborhood resistance and now has an uncertain future.

Finally, we asked all candidates about their priorities for the ongoing Comprehensive Plan amendment process, and how they envisioned their neighborhood accommodating more housing for incoming residents.

Perhaps because of the many hot-button issues in and around this ANC, there are a lot of contested races here. In the race for 3C05, the district at the northern border of the ANC, we endorse Emma Hersh.

Hersh's incredibly detailed responses showed a strong support for both bus and bike improvements in the area, and while she expressed concerns about the location selection process of the Ward 3 shelter, ultimately she "would be able to support the shelter" and hopes that the community "would welcome and embrace our new neighbors."

Hersh also says she is in favor of something different happening at the Wardman Park Hotel site, and that "[i]n its present state, the 16-acre [site] is doing far less to contribute to Woodley Park and the surrounding communities than it could." Her aspirations for the site are in tune with her three goals for the Comprehensive Plan amendment process: more "affordable housing, transit-oriented development, and an increase in local services and amenities." Hersh thinks all can be done in a way that "balances the importance of protecting and preserving our historic architecture and landmarks with the pursuit of opportunities to increase residential and commercial density."

Opponent and incumbent Margaret SIegel did not send in very thorough responses, and has different positions on a number of issues. She believes that the proposal at Wardman Park was "radically out of scale with [the] neighborhood," and did not offer a clear stance on the homeless shelter. We see Hersh as the clear choice for this district.


The National Cathedral. Photo by ehpien on Flickr.

Along the opposite border of the ANC lies 3C08, which includes the embassy-filled area surrounding Massachusetts Avenue and the Naval Observatory. Chaz Rotenberg was our clear choice for this race.

Rotenberg is unabashedly and "strongly in favor of the proposed homeless shelter at 3320 Idaho Avenue" and proclaims that this "is the neighborhood issue I care most about." Rotenberg also supports the development of more housing along Wisconsin Avenue, noting that "[h]ousing density has been disproportionately increasing at a lower rate in Ward 3 compared to other Wards," and was cautiously in favor of the proposed Wardman Park project, saying that he wanted a large proportion of the 1,500 units to be made into affordable housing.

Rotenberg is running against Malia Brink, who was less enthusiastic about building more housing along transit corridors. She is also still hesitant about the homeless shelter, having testified against the first location. We hope neighbors vote for Rotenberg.

Finally, the last contested race in ANC 3C is 3C09, where Bob Ward is running against long-time incumbent Nancy MacWood. Based on their responses to our survey, we support Bob Ward here.

Ward says he is "running to offer a different point of view than the one that prevails on ANC3C today." This includes being a strong supporter of additional housing along both Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues. He says the "Wardman Park project is one of the more exciting prospects for the area to add residential density in close proximity to transit in ANC3C," is adamant that the "nightmare that is DC General should be closed," and supports the current proposed shelter site, though he admits it seems to be the result of a "hastily-cut deal."

Ward also gives specific recommendations for pedestrian and bike improvements and says one of his goals "is to make parking irrelevant for intra-neighborhood shopping," increasing connectivity and access to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to move around. Sounds good to us.


American University. Photo by Raul Pacheco-Vega on Flickr.

In ANC 3D, we endorse Troy Kravitz

Encompassing the neighborhoods between 42nd Street and the Potomac River, ANC 3D is the westernmost section of the District. Spring Valley, Palisades, Foxhall Crescent, and the American University are all a part of this ANC.

Relationships between this commission and American University have not always been great, so we asked candidates how they hoped to work alongside the institution. Transportation along Massachusetts Avenue and the pending Comprehensive Plan update are also of importance here.

Finally, there has been a longstanding debate about the redevelopment of the Spring Valley Shopping center, where at one point a group of neighbors fought for and won a historic designation for the site's parking lot, effectively hampering development there.

There is one race we'd like to highlight in this area: 3D02, the neighborhoods directly surrounding American University's campus. Here we enthusiastically support Troy Kravitz over incumbent Tom Smith.

Kravitz fended off a long legal challenge by Smith in order to run for this seat, the first time a challenger has appeared in many years. Kravitz has long "publicly supported thoughtful regeneration at the Spring Valley Shopping Center," and also considers the planned Superfresh development nearby as an opportunity with "the potential to re-activate a largely moribund commercial district while imposing few hardships upon the nearest neighbors." He is eager to improve relations with the ANC and American University, and has specific recommendations for improving public transit along Massachusetts Avenue.

What is most important here is that a strong challenger to Tom Smith is an opportunity, as Kravitz puts it, to end the ANC's "pattern of obstruction at every turn." Contributors to Greater Greater Washington have written for years about Tom Smith and his many attempts to block challengers, as well as his consistent history of opposing and slowing down many changes to the area.

If you're a resident in 3D02, make this election count and vote for Kravitz.


Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.

In other ANCs, there are no contested races or we make no endorsements

In the other Ward 3 commissions (3B, 3E, & 3F), all the candidates are running unopposed. As per our endorsement process outlined here, we didn't offer endorsements in uncontested races, though you can certainly read full candidate responses to our questionnaire here and learn more about your representatives and issues in the neighborhoods.

As for ANC 3G, we encourage residents and readers to look carefully at the the candidate responses we received, though we decided not to offer our endorsements to any candidates there.

Want to read the responses of all of the Ward 3 ANC candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF for Ward 3. You can also see responses and our endorsements for all 8 wards on our 2016 ANC Endorsements Page, and we'll publish our rationale for those in upcoming posts.

These are official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington. To determine this year's endorsements, we sent a reader-generated candidate questionnaire to all ANC candidates. We then published candidate responses and collected feedback. Staff evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and presented endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.

Politics


Our endorsements for ANC in Ward 4

A series of hilly neighborhoods at the top of the District, both in terms of geography and elevation, comprises Ward 4. Residents here are from Petworth, Manor Park, Brightwood, 16th Street Heights, and Takoma, among other places. We found five candidates running in contested Ward 4 races for Advisory Neighborhood Commission to endorse, and we hope you go vote for them.


Map created with Mapbox, data from OpenStreetMap.

 

What are ANCs, and why should I care?

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, are neighborhood councils of unpaid, elected representatives who meet monthly and weigh in with the government about important issues to the community. ANCs are very important on housing and transportation. An ANC's opposition to new housing, retail, a bike lane, bus improvements, etc. can stymie or significantly delay valuable projects. On the other hand, proactive and positive-thinking ANCs give the government suggestions for ways to improve the neighborhood and rally resident support.

Each ANC is divided into a number of Single Member Districts (SMDs), averaging about 2,000 voters. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes; Your vote—every vote—really counts.

Not sure which SMD you live in? Find out here.

Here are our endorsements

After reviewing the candidate responses from each competitive race in Ward 4, we chose five candidates to endorse. You can read their positions for yourself here, along with responses of many unopposed candidates.


Brightwood. Photo by las.photographs on Flickr.

In ANC 4A, we endorse Patience Singleton

ANC 4A is a long, narrow area that runs along 16th Street from the top corner of DC to Piney Branch Parkway. It's a place with a mix of churches, single family homes, parkland, and some apartment buildings, and one lots of people pass through as they commute down 16th Street from Maryland.

Transportation and the heavy commuter traffic are primary concerns for many neighbors here. Better bus service, both along 16th Street and nearby 14th Street, could make a huge difference to the area, but some proposed changes (for example, dedicated bus lanes) could require residents to sacrifice some on-street parking. We hope commissioners in this area will work through this situation with tact, but a clear preference for improving bus infrastructure and service.

One candidate in this area earned our endorsement: incumbent Patience Singleton. Singleton is running to keep her seat in 4A04, a small district on the eastern border of the ANC between Van Buren and Rittenhouse Streets.

Right away, Singleton was clear that "[a]s a commuter who uses the 16th Street bus lines most work days, [she] would support a dedicated bus lane along 16th Street" even if it meant removing some on-street parking. Similarly, she "strongly support[s] express bus options for the 14th Street corridor," and has worked closely with District agencies during her tenure to improve street and pedestrian safety around her SMD.

On housing, Singleton is positive and forward-thinking, something we wish we saw more of across DC:

ANC 4A will definitely add more market rate and affordable housing over the next decade; much of it will be placed on or near the Walter Reed complex. Additional housing will likely be available through the conversion and renovation of multifamily housing within our ANC. I am committed to ensuring the availability of various types of housing in ANC 4A.
Challenger Michael Bethea seems less amenable to change. When asked about his vision for the neighborhood in the next 20 years, he wrote: "I truly would like my neighborhood to look very similar to the way it looks now." Bethea avoided taking strong stances on many of the issues we asked about, and thought that the area has "sufficient" bike lanes and sidewalks. To us, giving Singleton a second term is the best option here.


Takoma Metro Station. Photo by RealVirginian on Flickr.

In ANC 4B, we endorse Natalee Snider and James Gaston III

To the east lies ANC 4B, a triangle formed by the DC/Maryland border to the east, Missouri Avenue and Riggs Road to the south, and Georgia Avenue to the west.

One long-standing and key issue for these neighborhoods has been the redevelopment saga at the Takoma Metro station. After years of back and forth, some in the community still are pushing to preserve the under-used parking lots there rather than build housing or encourage more neighborhood retail.

Nearly all of the races in 4B are contested, but we only found two candidates that clearly deserved our endorsement and hopefully your vote.

The first is Natalee Snider for ANC 4B06, covering the neighborhoods surrounding the Blair Road/Kansas Avenue intersection and nearby Fort Slocum Park.

As someone who frequently uses Takoma Metro station, Snider is cautiously in favor of redevelopment there, seeing "the benefit to both residents, commuters and local businesses [of] developing housing on an under utilized parking lot." She also had very specific recommendations for where housing could be added throughout the neighborhood to better accommodate new residents.

Snider is a self-proclaimed "strong proponent of a 'walkable/bikeable' neighborhood," and would advocate for the extension of both bike lanes and the Metropolitan Branch Trail within the ANC. Overall her responses were energetic, informed, and positive. As one reader wrote: "Thoughtful, responsive answers to the questions and she understands that increased density, more transit options and balance are all important if Ward 4 is to thrive."

Incumbent and current ANC chair Ron Austin has voted in opposition to many of the plans at the Takoma Metro stop over the years, citing traffic concerns and the needs to protect green space. We strongly encourage you to vote for Natalee Snider here.

Another candidate who earned our endorsement in 4B was James Gaston III, in the race for 4B07, along the DC/Maryland border. On the Takoma Metro station controversy, Gaston is clearly hesitant to take a firm side but says that the project proposal "has true merit" and later advocates for "more development near the Metro station."

Gaston's opponent, current commissioner Judi Jones, also responded to our survey but didn't reveal much in her short answers. In the end, we have a better idea of what Gaston's ANC term would look like and are willing to give him our support.


Petworth. Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

In ANC 4C, we endorse Charlotte Nugent

If you live in Petworth or 16th Street Heights, you probably live in ANC 4C. Along the border of this ANC lies the Old Hebrew Home, which has long sparked debate over what to build there. A plan for redeveloping it is currently under review by the District government, and the new proposal could include large amounts of affordable housing.

Other issues for these neighborhoods include the previously mentioned proposals for express bus service on 14th street and the ongoing debate about condo redevelopments and "pop-ups" throughout the area.

Out of the ten seats in this ANC, only one has two candidates in the race: 4C01, near the intersection of Georgia and Colorado Avenues. Both candidates in this race are good, but in the end we decided Charlotte Nugent was the strongest choice.

Nugent's responses were thorough and at times incredibly in sync with Greater Greater Washington values (she is a long-time reader). She explains that she supports "100% affordable housing" at Hebrew Home because she believes there is a current unbalance in market-rate and affordable housing development in the neighborhood, and "we urgently need to build more affordable housing in the Petworth area to keep residents with average or lower incomes from being pushed out."

Her answer on the spread of often unpopular "pop-ups" is worth quoting in its entirety, as it deftly navigates the issue to highlight solid arguments for increased housing at multiple affordability levels, multi-income neighborhoods, and smarter transit-oriented growth:

The greater Petworth area has seen many condo and "pop-up" developments in recent years that cater to residents with higher incomes. While we welcome these residents to our neighborhood, there has not been an equal increase in units of affordable housing. In order to keep residents from being pushed out of our neighborhood, we must build more housing to accommodate all who desire to live here. At the same time, business corridors such as Georgia Avenue and upper 14th Street have not seen as much development, while businesses on these streets sometimes struggle to gain customers and traction.

We are in this situation because the DC government has not focused on encouraging development in the locations where it is most needed. Instead of waiting for condos and pop-ups to appear haphazardly, we should encourage development on corridors such as Georgia Avenue and 14th Street, and in areas where zoning already allows taller buildings."

::applause::

Nugent's answers on transportation issues are similarly balanced and thoughtful; she is a strong supporter of bus improvements and bike lanes, being that her immediate neighborhood is not closely situated to Metro stations.

Opponent Sean Wieland is a good contender. He wants to advocate for both retail and housing at the Old Hebrew Home, including a percentage being affordable, and hopes the same style of development can happen along Georgia Avenue. Wieland also has clear ideas for bike lane improvements, though he is slightly skeptical of the proposal to add express bus service to 14th street.

In the end, it's great this SMD has such good candidates to choose from. This term, we think Charlotte Nugent is the one who should get a chance to serve.


Brightwood. Photo by thebrightwoodian on Flickr.

In ANC 4D, we endorse Amy Hemingway

Directly north of ANC 4C is 4D, including Rock Creek Cemetery and the neighborhood of Brightwood. One particularly salient topic for this area is the concentration of vacant buildings there, an issue current commissioner David Sheon (running unopposed this year) took on this summer on our blog.

What is more, the area has seen a spike in crime recently that demands the attention of ANC commissioners, and neighbors are anxious to see the continued revitalization of Georgia Avenue as a place for businesses to thrive.

Amy Hemingway caught our attention for 4D06, a district west of Sherman Circle. Hemingway believes "all of us should be aware of... if not concerned" about the issue of vacant housing, and supports current legislation that grew out of the ANC's work on this issue.

She also proclaims that "local economic development is a passion of [hers]," and that she will work hard to encourage smart development and support businesses along Georgia Avenue, including the production of more housing along the corridor.

Hemingway's opponent is incumbent Bill Quirk, who did not reveal much about his positions in his short responses to our survey. When asked about the biggest controversy in the neighborhood, he responded: "Whether or not to have benches in Sherman Circle has previously been a contentious issue. While previously I've opposed them, there has been one placed there recently and it hasn't had a negative impact. It might be time to revisit the issue."

Oh, ANCs, the place where neighbors tackle everything from affordable housing and crime to... benches. Unless you're a single-issue voter and your issue is benches, we suggest voting for Hemingway.

Want to read the responses of all of the Ward 4 ANC candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF for Ward 4. You can also see responses and our endorsements for all 8 wards on our 2016 ANC Endorsements Page, and we'll publish our rationale for those in upcoming posts.

These are official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington. To determine this year's endorsements, we sent a reader-generated candidate questionnaire to all ANC candidates. We then published candidate responses and collected feedback. Staff evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and presented endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.

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